NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As the world prepare for the United Nation’s led summit to discuss global food and nutrition security, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has pointed out key issues that must be addressed for Africa to attain resilient and sustainable food systems.
During the presidential summit at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which was hosted by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and attended by Presidents of Malawi, Rwanda, Namibia and Uganda, Museveni said that the issue of sustainable food systems in Africa was a multidimensional one and should be addressed at different levels.
“The first issue is seeds,” said the president, noting that there is need for African countries to invest in improved seeds and agricultural research. “Fortunately in Uganda we have research institutions, and they have handled the issue of improved seeds for many crops,” he said.
Museveni noted that apart from seeds, countries must address the issue of good agronomic practices, which include control of soil erosion, retention of soil moisture use of recommended farm inputs, good crop and animal husbandry among others.
“We also must address the issue of storage and post harvest handling,” he said. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates from 2011 suggest that as much as 37 percent of food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost between production and consumption. Estimates for cereals are 20.5 percent.
African countries were also asked to embrace farm mechanization and work towards improving the transport systems, particularly the roads and the railway system for easy trade of food commodities.
To sustain food productivity without relying on climatic conditions, the head of state observed that the UN Food Systems Summit must address the issue of irrigation in African countries. Studies have so far shown that in the Sub Saharan Africa region, less than four percent of the area cultivated is equipped for irrigation.
“Some countries like Uganda have sufficient food and we even have surplus. So I urge the Heads of States to address the issue of markets for such countries. Farmers can only produce better if they are sure that they have the market for their produce,” said President Museveni.
So far, the Africa Union has already formed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with an aim of accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
Other issues discussed at the AGRF high level summit include the use of recommended fertilisers, control of crop pests and diseases, soil mapping to understand which food grows better where, overfishing particularly on Lake Victoria, and sufficient electricity supply in all African countries to facilitate food processing.
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta called on African leaders to prioritise initiatives that will cause inclusive agricultural transformation.
“In order to overcome (some of the) negative perceptions (about agriculture in Kenya) and to show our children and youth the nobility and profitability of agriculture, we are elevating the place of agriculture in our schools by revitalizing the 4-K-Clubs,” said the Head of State.
President Kagame of Rwanda noted that transforming food systems is the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “Some 70 percent of African adults work in agriculture and agribusiness sectors. So if they are not doing well, then Africa is not doing well,” he said.
He observed that Africa needs a transformation on how food systems in Africa are organised. “We must ensure that everyone has access to the food they need on an equitable and affordable basis. For Africa, this means importing less food because we are capable of growing more than what we consume,” he said.
As part of the contributions to the UN Food Systems Summit, the 2021 AGRF conference is expected to yield tangible and concrete outcomes in four areas that include equitable and inclusive livelihoods, build forward better, healthy people and planet, and sustainable food systems.
The UN Food Systems Summit will take place during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23. It will seek to set the stage for global food systems transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been awarded the 2021 Africa Food Prize, for work that has improved food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
ICRISAT, a CGIAR Research Center, is a non-profit, non-political public international research organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world.
Between 2007 and 2019, ICRISAT led a collaboration of partners to deliver the Tropical Legumes Project. The project, undertaken together with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), developed 266 improved legume varieties and almost half a million tons of seed for a range of legume crops, including cowpeas, pigeon peas, chickpea, common bean, groundnut, and soybean. These new varieties have helped over 25 million smallholder farmers become more resilient to climate change, as well as pest and disease outbreaks.
In addition to these new varieties, the project trained 52 scientists, who are already working in national research institutes across the continent. Training these next generation scientists in the countries where the projects were implemented, has helped strengthen the research capacity of national agricultural research systems in Africa and contributed to sustaining the gains the projects have made.
Congratulating the winner, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chair of the Africa Food Prize Committee and former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, said: “ICRISAT’s leadership in developing seeds that not only end malnutrition but also survive in semi-arid areas is inspiring other agricultural organisations to rethink seed development and farming practices that suit and solve Africa’s agricultural challenges.”
“Their work is also important as it provides an inclusive approach that supports the whole agricultural value chain, from farm to fork, providing farmers with farming tools and a market for their produce,’’ he said.
Accepting the award, Dr. Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, ICRISAT Director General, said the Institute’s work spanned the entire value chain, from high-end genomics to markets and agri-business in dryland cropping systems.
“We also empower women and attract youth back to agriculture using the latest tools and technologies available to make farming profitable.
“The Africa Food Prize is a major accolade and recognition of ICRISAT’s work in Africa and reinforces our belief that agriculture can be profitable for smallholder farmers. It is also testament to the work of our close collaborators, the national agriculture research and extension systems, without whose support this would not have been possible.
“We dedicate this award to the smallholder farmers in the drylands of Africa, as they are the ones who inspire us with their patience and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Dr. Hughes.
Dryland ecosystems cover 45 per cent of Africa’s landmass and feed and support almost half a billion people. However, these systems are fragile and prone to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
Programs like the Tropical Legumes projects help the millions of smallholder farmers relying on drylands ecosystems to grow more food and become more resilient in the face of climate change. The project has been implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The Africa Food Prize recognizes outstanding African individuals and institutions leading efforts in the following areas: transformation of Africa’s foods systems; promotion of sustainable agricultural practices; support for smallholder farmers to raise incomes; resilience in the wake of climate change impacts; and access to high quality agricultural inputs, knowledge, and equipment. The award, that includes a $100,000 prize, celebrates those changing the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle practice to a business that lifts communities out of poverty.
For the first time in history, Kenya counts all its animals on both land and water to help with its conservation and tourism plans
MARSEILLE, France, (PAMACC News) – The Kenya Minister of Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala, today officially released the report for the country's first-ever national wildlife census.
Themed ‘Count to conserve’, the census conducted between May- July 2021 counted over 30 species of mammals, birds and marine species in various ecosystems, covering nearly 59 percent of Kenya's land mass.
According to the report, Kenya has a total of 36,280 elephants, a 12-percent jump from the figures recorded in 2014, when poaching activity was at its highest.
Speaking during a press briefing at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, Hon. Balala said: “This national census is the first wildlife survey of its kind and scope in Kenya. It is fully financed by the Kenyan government. Obtaining this level of information allows for better policy, planning and assessment of areas that require focus in our interventions to maintain or improve our national conservation efforts"
Kenya in East Africa is home to vulnerable and endangered species that include lions, elephants, giraffes and rhinos. It is also a transit route for migratory whales, dolphins and endangered turtles. In March 2021, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned that poaching and habitat destruction, particularly due to land conversion for agriculture, was devastating elephant numbers across Africa.
The survey counted 1,739 rhinos, 897 critically endangered black rhinos and 840 southern white rhinos, and said the tourist magnet Maasai Mara National Reserve was home to nearly 40,000 wildebeest.
“The results of the census report could greatly improve Kenya’s conservation efforts for future generations. Kenya, like several of its African peers, is trying to strike a balance between protecting its wildlife while managing the dangers they pose when they raid human settlements in search of food and water.” said Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru
Congratulating Kenya for this great milestone, IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Luther Anukur said: “IUCN is honored to have Kenya and other Africa State Members participate at the World Conservation Congress in Marseille. This forum allows for government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia to share experiences and explore opportunities for collaboration. Kenya’s example is one that will inform policy and action towards wildlife conservation. It is an example that many countries in Africa can learn from.”
Kenya is committed to developing innovative mechanisms for sustainable conservation, identifying conservation hotspots and developing strategies to rally public support and partnerships to grow wildlife numbers. KWS invites partners to work with it in developing strategies to increase the numbers of the endangered and threatened species.
Click the link to download the report here cl: https://bit.ly/WildlifeCensusReport
MAKHANDA, South Africa (PAMACC News) - A comparative study exploring the challenges farmers face in two cattle-farming provinces in South Africa and Kenya shows that trader or broker market control, prevalent in Kenya, should be avoided in South Africa as market access for farmers is improved.
It further identifies the Meat Naturally Initiative (MNI) in the Eastern Cape as a successful case study that, with proper co-ordination agricultural national extension office, could be replicated in both countries to tackle these challenges and increase the access and participation of small-scale farmers in beef markets.
The study, conducted by Professor Cyril Nhlanhla Mbatha, director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University, identifies poor production methods and limited market access as critical challenge clusters that prevent small African farmers in both countries from developing. In cattle farming in particular, poor grazing practices and a lack of vaccination produce poor quality animals. Limited information, poor infrastructure and cultural issues are some of the factors leading to low participation levels of these farmers in livestock markets.
The study compares how some of the common challenges in cattle production and market access have, to varying degrees, been overcome in both countries. Mbatha says that a higher number of rural South African farmers remain excluded from different parts of the value chains of formal beef markets compared to Kenya, and even though they own large herds of cattle, their contribution to the country’s demand for beef remains marginal. “Rural South African small farmers are generally faced with high production and marketing challenges, which prevent them from developing into successful commercial farmers. In terms of business operations, South African small communal farmers lack many of the prerequisite elements that make for innovative competitive markets. Many South African small farmers are still operating within mainly traditional systems with respect to livestock farming.”
Mbatha says challenges in managing livestock and in improving businesses also stem from the fact that there are many more farmers who own smaller numbers of herds, rather than fewer farmers owning bigger herds. “In limited capacities of communal grazing areas this would lead to conflicts among livestock owners on land management issues. This has a direct negative impact on the health and number of Large Stock Units raised per hectare of land. It also impacts markets, as buyers need to search for good quality product.”
Most studies agree that transaction cost issues are core to most challenges faced by small livestock farmers. “Costs of transporting stock to and from markets are a barrier. Ultimately these costs force farmers to adversely select themselves out of formal markets, which leaves them with limited prospects, says Mbatha. “This gap is a clear opportunity for the agricultural extension office to coordinate these information flows.”
Mbatha says that while Kenyan small rural farmers face similar production challenges as those faced by their SA counterparts, they are more advanced in their level of participation in formal markets. However, the farmers’ lack of resources including infrastructure to transport animals to markets, has allowed an emergence of powerful traders who control markets to the detriment of poorly resourced farmers. “The Kenyan beef value chains are dominated by brokers, traders and butchers. There are persistent reports of high levels of collusion by fewer brokers, especially in the marketing stages of livestock.”
Mbatha says that even though the market domination by brokers is higher in Kenya compared to SA, Kenyan farmers are still better off. “In SA small farmers are almost completely excluded in the marketing stages of red meat, where big suppliers dominate the market. As the small farmer markets develop, it should be anticipated that brokers would emerge to occupy many spaces where obvious profits can be made and market issues like those observed in Kenya may develop, where market powers and prices are skewed against producers. Extension offices in SA must already develop strategies for bypassing any potential dominance of markets by traders to the abuse of farmers through prices in different regions of the country.”
The study identifies a successful case study in developing small African farmers that could be replicated across South Africa. The Meat Naturally Initiative (MNI) in the Eastern Cape Province applies a holistic model through which many of the documented challenges in livestock farming for both countries could be reduced, or avoided. “This project has a holistic environmental approach to rural development, with rangeland restoration as one of its objectives. This project organised livestock auction markets for rural small farmers as one of its initiatives to incentivise farmers to participate in environmental protection efforts. Put simply, stakeholders work with traditional leaders to mobilise community members to restore and protect their ecological capital. The model rewards community members with economic incentives aimed at reducing poverty and improving their livelihoods, through participation in livestock-based enterprises.”
Mbatha says that while the MNI model seems sustainable if implemented as intended, only a small proportion of farmers currently benefit. Many parts of the project and its approach to development need to be emulated for the benefits of more SA small farmers in other rural regions, a process that could be co-ordinated through the national agricultural extension office. Mandated to assist small farmers, it holds the required national footprint and shares many of the developmental objectives of the project to promote the lessons across the country.
“If the useful lessons from the model are not deliberately spread across the country, as small farmer markets develop on their own, many of the bad structural elements of such markets may creep in. The Kenyan study illustrates well what some of these elements could be with respect to potentially rising farmer abuses by traders or brokers.”
Prof Cyril Nhlanhla Mbatha is the director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University, a dynamic African hub of pioneering research that is opening gateways for community-rooted knowledge to be incorporated in policy and practice aimed at improving the natural environment and quality of human life. Former acting Dean and CEO of the Unisa School of Business Leadership and the first Director of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Prof Mbatha has been a senior research consultant on topics including Public Finances Management, Labour Markets & Further Education and Training, International and Regional Trade Integration for government departments and research councils in South Africa and international donor organisations like the UNDP in Botswana and the World Trade Organisation.